Amy Artisan

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Month: December 2014


In December…a month wrapped in the holiday glow…early in the month, the hustle & bustle of holiday prep…then finally, the time to just enjoy…and now, it is time to turn the calendar on a month and a year…these are some of the things that filled my December days…
Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

  • Reading…new (to me) Advent writings to prepare for Christmas (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas & Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent) – I think this is the start of a new Advent tradition…a big stack of books was under the Christmas Tree for me – a couple were devoured in quick order & others are currently mid-read & others will fill my 2015 reading…plenty of “fodder” for a mid-January reading recap…
  • Watching (on the big screen)…an Artisan family tradition is a movie at the theater on Christmas Eve – this year, Night at the Museum which was very appropriate this year with the London based storyline…and after Christmas, we thoroughly enjoyed the film adaptation of “Into the Woods”…
  • Watching (on the small screen)…a holiday fave, Love Actually, is more fun this year with my recent London travels…evenings at home in the ‘Ville were filled with Christmas classics: Christmas in Connecticut, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Christmas Card, An American Christmas Carol (from Mom’s 1988 VHS taping of it TV when we lived in KC)…thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Kennedy Center Honors performances…
  • Listening…a bit late to the game, I’ve devoured the “Serial” podcast this month…it’s Christmastime, which means a heavy rotation of my Christmas music collection – which just like my general music collection is rather eclectic
A spectacular light display in the 'Ville

A spectacular light display in the ‘Ville

  • CelebratingChristmas in many different ways! Early in the month, a Sunday morning piano & cello Christmas concert from my girls in TX. Opening Christmas gifts with dear ones via FaceTime! A Sunday evening drive around the county to check out Christmas lights with the family when home in the ‘Ville. A beautiful Candlelight Christmas Eve service to start a lovely evening that also included our family appetizer supper, Christmas crackers and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Christmas dinner hosted by good friends in the ‘Ville. A low key Boxing Day – all of us staying in for the day and reading books from under the Christmas tree – lovely!
A simple progress

A simple scarf…in progress

  • Crafting…finishing up another Simple Things Shawlette, including blocking in just a couple of weeks (a separate post on it in the coming week)…casting on for a Christmas travel project & making great progress during the aforementioned evenings in the ‘Ville…
  • Browsing…some favorite online reads this month: a great compilation of Jane Austen quotes; a great column on never outgrowing the belief in Santa; when Nobel prize winning science & high fashion intersect; the latest installment of “It’s Aaron” focusing on a great charter school in Milwaukee
  • Reconnectinga reunion of sorts with high school friends while home in the ‘Ville for Christmas…thanks to one of the gals posting a band banquet picture for a Throwback Thursday earlier this fall it set in motion a fun evening with friends I hadn’t seen in 20+ years…we all agreed that we need to make this an annual event
  • Cooking…A big batch of Chocolate Chili in the crockpot on a Sunday afternoon…pulled pork in the crockpot on another Sunday afternoon was paired with Sriracha coleslaw for tasty tacos…mushroom caviar to take as an appetizer to 2 holiday parties…my spinach artichoke dip was made for Christmas Eve…trying out a new to me sausage roll recipe to include in our Christmas Eve appetizer supper (it’s a keeper!)…
Warming hot cocoa

Warming hot cocoa

  • Sipping…Candy Cane coffee in the french press…frothing Cinnamon Vanilla milk from Target to enjoy “fancy” coffee at home in the ‘Ville…hot cocoa with frothed coconut milk…
  • Traveling…home to the ‘Ville for a Christmas break! I was home for 11 days (!) – thankful that I could work remotely for a couple of days before Christmas & avoid some of the airport insanity.

Christmas Eve fun

  • Reflecting…on the year that was 2014…so many great adventures…so many learnings…also, I’m pleased to see I was out here on the blog more than I’ve been in recent years – looking to exceed that in the coming year…
  • Looking Ahead….a new year! What will it hold? I look forward to seeing how it unfolds…stay tuned…
Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up.
What are you into these days?
What are some of your favorite Christmas experiences?

On Christmas


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Merry Christmas from the Artisan Family!

Simply Green & Gold!

A long overdue post about a knit that has been well worn this year…

Casting on...12/19/13

This time last year, I cast on for a simple holiday knitting project with a single skein of yarn I picked up when I met up with Vicki at her farmer’s market in July 2012. This colorway pays homage to a key ingredient of life in Northeast Wisconsin: Green + Gold = Go Pack Go!

I was deep in the project in Marinette when the Packers won their last Super Bowl. In fact, I can say that it was that season when I “finally” became a football fan – and indeed became caught up in the fun that is being a Packers fan. Along the way, the whole Artisan Family has become Packers fans, too.

The Simple Things Shawlette was the perfect pattern for an easy knit to highlight the yarn. In short order, a finished knit was off the needles and then stalled for a bit before I blocked it. It was blocked in time for spring and saw lots of use this year. A fun punch of color against my light aqua spring coat. A frequent travel scarf with many of my flights and trips. A bit of Packers spirit in the office. It has truly been a “go to” piece in my wardrobe. (Raveled here).

As I prepared to celebrate my birthday by attending my 1st Packers game at Lambeau Field last month, I hoped the weather would cooperate to allow this shawlette to make an appearance. And thankfully, it did! It was a cold weather game so there were many layers – but I planned “right” so that this one didn’t have to get hidden in the mix (yes, I had another handknit cowl in my gear to layer on top of this if needed). It was so fun to cheer on the game with this green & gold handknit.

And, since I enjoy this knit so much, another Simple Things Shawlette is off the needles, blocked & in use these days – stay tuned for another knit debut in the coming weeks!

Ornamental Treasures

Last week once I had finished decorating my Christmas tree, I read this sort of post over at Cakes, Teas, and Dreams and immediately thought I should do something similar. (After wishing I had been doing this all these years.) I originally thought I might not put the Christmas tree up this year because of some anticipated work travel – but that project got pushed to the new year – so, the tree is providing a lovely glow in the living room.

In addition to the glow that the tree lights provide, I think there is also a glow provided by the memories associated with the ornaments that fill the tree. A common thread to the ornaments highlighted here…work adventures….throughout the years, I have often picked up a Christmas ornament to capture a work memory…

1995 - Houston

1995 – Houston

My first business trip – the summer of 1995, I was in Houston for an internship with a consulting company. It was an all around good experience – even though there were some bumps in the midst of it. I learned a lot through the job (& ultimately was in consulting for 15 years because of this opportunity)…I participated in a great weekly Bible study, Caedmon’s Call was the house band…co-workers became friends…a new friend at church there let me stay in her spare room when my summer housing option disintegrated. This ornament from a shop in the Houston Galleria reminds me of the summer of being out there on my own and handling everything that came my way.

1997 - St. Croix, USVI

1997 – St. Croix, USVI

In 1997, I had a couple of business trips to St. Croix USVI to conduct training for a client. The island is dotted with “windmill remnants” from Dutch colonial days. Truly, most of my time there was spent working (& trying to stay on the correct side of the road while driving) – although in the evenings we enjoyed some great meals in town. My last trip there, I finally had a chance to stay through a weekend and do a bit of exploring.

1998 - Appleton, WI

1998 – Appleton, WI

In November 1998, I first traveled to Northeast WI for a project. I wintered in Appleton. One evening while shopping in the local mall, I saw a cart in the middle of the mall selling these ornaments that were cut from timber that had been recovered from “long ago sunken timber ships” in the Great Lakes. Little did I know then how much a part of my life NE WI would become in recent years.

2003 - Kansas City

2003 – Kansas City

Eleven years ago, I had a business trip back to Kansas City during December. I traveled with a client team and we had long days of work. In the evenings, I was tour director and shared my love of Kansas City Christmas with them – we would pile into our rental minivan & I would direct us to some favorites from when I lived in the KC area. One night, we were at Crowne Center with the ice skating rink and great Christmas decorations. The next evening we enjoyed dinner and shopping at the spectacularly lit Plaza. In one of the stores, there were ornaments made from the colored bulbs that lit the plaza the previous year. Several of these bulbs came home with me to share. As we left KC, several of my clients said this was the best business trip they had ever been on because I shared the KC Christmas magic with them.

2011 - Marinette

2011 – Marinette

In August 2011, I stopped at a favorite Christmas shoppe in Door County as I drove back to Chicago from a week in Marinette that sparked my transition from consultant to employee. This Packers fan seemed perfect to add to the tree to remember the 2010 Super Bowl win & the season when I became a Packers fan. It might be a bit more special this year after cheering on a game at Lambeau last month.

2012 - Marinette

2012 – Marinette

A day trip to Door County in June as we were in the final crunch time on the project in Marinette had me once again at my favorite Christmas shoppe. This time, a lighthouse ornament came home with me as a reminder of my calming walks to/from the local lighthouse that were part of my Marinette routine.

2014 - London

2014 – London

A definite highlight of this year has been the 3 trips to the UK in support of a project. Each trip offered an opportunity for some sight seeing. This year, I add Westminster Abbey to my tree to remind me of my first afternoon of my first trip when I enjoyed a proper afternoon tea tucked away on the grounds of the abbey.


As I look at my Christmas tree, I see not just a celebration of the season – I see moments & memories & stories from so many chapters of my life. There are numerous chapter to share – vacation souvenirs…painted plaster ornaments from Artisan Dad…sweet ornaments from sweet friends…and more. What stories does your tree tell through your ornaments?

Holiday Shuffle

I had another Christmas themed post ready to share – but when I saw this prompt, I decided to join in. (Bonus – I now have a post ready for later this week…)

O Christmas Tree

For Ten on Tuesday this week, the prompt was the 1st 10 songs that come up in your iPod shuffle. While this would be an eclectic list given the wide range of tunes I have, I decided to give it a holiday twist & shuffle on the “holiday” genre. So, here are 10 holiday tunes that shuffled through for me:

  • O Holy Night – Joshua Bell (feat. Kristin Chenoweth) – Musical Gifts
  • The Chipmunk Song – Joey McIntyre – Come Home for Christmas
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas – Lady Antebellum – On This Winter’s Night
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – John Tesh – Big Band Christmas
  • Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix – That’s Christmas to Me
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Kevin Max – Holy Night
  • Christmas Is Coming – John Denver & The Muppets – A Christmas Together
  • Mele Kalikimaka – The Puppini Sisters – Christmas With the Puppini Sisters
  • We Three Kings – Pink Martini – Joy to the World

As an aside, I actually have a playlist titled “O Holy Night” & it turns out that over the years I have collected 17 versions of this beautiful Christmas song.

‘Tis the Season…what tunes would shuffle through if you narrowed your music to holiday?

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